THE SUNNY SOUTHWEST: ACB CONFERENCE AND CONVENTION 2010 by Carla Ruschival

The 49th annual conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind will be one of the best ever. Make plans now to be in Phoenix July 9-17 for all the information, exhibits, fun and friends.

The ultra-modern brand-new Downtown Sheraton Hotel is home to ACB for convention week. General sessions and exhibits will be side by side on the third floor, and special-interest group meetings, workshops and social events will generally be on 2. After a busy day in exhibits and meetings, you and your friends may want to walk, grab a taxi, or hop a bus and explore the many restaurants and other attractions in downtown Phoenix.

Often people ask if there are activities that can help them in their careers. They want to know about information available on important issues, and how they can learn more about new adaptive technology. Here's a sampling of these outstanding opportunities; share them with your employer and explore the possibility of using your time in Phoenix as professional development.

Exhibits: Compare and contrast the latest products for blind and visually impaired people. Discover which video magnifier, scanner, braille display, notetaker or speech program best meets your needs. Examine an endless variety of products for work, school and daily living. Collect materials to take home to others in your office or organization. You will want to spend hours and hours browsing the exhibit hall; it opens on Saturday, July 10, at 1:00 and closes on Thursday, July 15, at 1:00.

Workshops and Focus Groups: Every conference and convention features unique opportunities to learn new skills, tips and techniques on a wide range of topics. Seminars on diabetes, employment issues, rehabilitation, transportation and information access to off-the-shelf technology are some examples. Get instruction and tips on high-tech products such as screen readers, braille notetakers, low-vision products, and much more.

Programs and Discussions: ACB general sessions (Sunday evening, Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.-noon, and all day Friday) address education, rehabilitation, employment, access, health-related issues and much more. The presentation by a talking book narrator and update on library services are always popular. While the 2010 program is not yet complete, you can be assured that it will be exciting and information-packed.

ACB committees, special-interest affiliates and others sponsor an endless variety of break-out sessions and small-group discussions. Look for informative programming for teachers, government employees, blind vendors and entrepreneurs, attorneys, and information technology specialists. Students can explore careers and meet people working in their areas of interest. Special programming targets issues related to low vision, guide dogs, deaf-blind concerns, braille, etc.

Networking: It is often said that networking with others with similar interests is as important as education and training, and that it greatly enhances the job-seeking process and long-term success in any career path. Whether you are a teacher or student, rehabilitation counselor or administrator, parent or caregiver, employer or job-seeker, you will be able to network with others in your field. Exhibits, Advertising And Sponsorships

The 2010 ACB conference and convention gives businesses and agencies a chance to let people from all over the country and around the world know about their products and services. Booth space, advertising, and sponsorships are now available. Discounts are available for exhibitors who register early and who purchase advertising.

New This Year: Reserve at least one premium booth in the exhibit hall and grab our registration bag special. We'll stuff one brochure or other item of your choice FREE in our registration bags (a $250 value)! This is your chance to reach every attendee and drive traffic to your booth.

Color Pages: Make your products and services stand out from the rest! Full-page program ads and covers are once again available in color.

Exhibit Special for Blind Entrepreneurs: Are you a blind small-business owner? Do you have products such as CDs, books, crafts, or computer games to sell? Are you a representative for a company that sells jewelry, toys, home decor, etc.? Would your products be a popular addition to the ACB exhibit area?

If you have always wanted to give the exhibit area a try, but haven't been sure that the hours and cost were right for you, now is your chance. Discounts on tabletop booths are available to blind small-business owners during their first, second and third years of participation in the exhibit hall.

For more information, contact Michael Smitherman (exhibits) at (601) 968-4164 or e-mail msmitherman@mbhs.org, or Margarine Beaman (advertising and sponsorships) at (512) 921-1625 or e-mail oleo50@hotmail.com.

Convention Details

Special-interest groups, ACB committees, and others wishing to sponsor programs or activities at the convention should submit all information for the pre-registration form by April 1. Program details need to be submitted by May 1. Make all arrangements related to convention events (reserving space, ordering food or A/V equipment, etc.) with Carla Ruschival (phone, (502)897-1472 or e-mail, adamcarla@bellsouth.net).

Make your hotel reservations at the Phoenix Downtown Sheraton hotel. Room rates are $89 plus tax per night. Call 1-800-325-3535 to make reservations.

For convention questions or special concerns, contact Carla Ruschival at (502) 897-1472 or by e-mail at adamcarla@bellsouth.net, or call the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666.